MODESTO — A detective on Thursday testified that a witness saw three defendants assault a 17-year-old boy at an east Modesto park not long before police say the defendants attacked another teenage victim at the same park.
The second attack resulted in the stabbing death of 18-year-old Tylor Crippen, who was killed about 8:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at Creekwood Park, a few blocks west of Johansen High School.
Taylor Koplen, 18, Jacob Segura, 19, and Juan Garcia, 16, have been charged with murder in Crippen's death. Their preliminary hearing continued Thursday.
Modesto police Detective Jon Evers questioned the witness, who was identified in court as "Confidential Witness 4." The witness said she was with the three defendants at the park Jan. 29, and they were drinking beer. Her sister also was at the park, drunk and passed out in the park's playground.
The witness told the detective that Segura made unwanted advances toward her, then she called her boyfriend to pick her up at the park. Evers testified that the witness saw her boyfriend arrive, and he was confronted by Segura.
She told the detective that Segura punched her boyfriend first, before Koplen and Garcia joined the scuffle. Evers testified that the witness saw the three defendants punching and stomping on her boyfriend.
The witness said she tried to pull them off her boyfriend, but someone punched her in the head. When she tried to stop them because he was her boyfriend, the witness heard Segura say, "Who cares?" according to the detective.
She said the assault lasted several minutes in the middle of Mechalys Way, just south of the park. The witness left the park with her sister and her boyfriend, who later said his pocketknife and cell phone were missing.
Prosecutors allege that Crippen, later that night, was stabbed with the pocketknife the defendants stole from the witness's boyfriend.
During cross-examination, the detective testified that the witness never saw the defendants take her boyfriend's belongings. She did say that she was trying to figure why they assaulted her boyfriend, and that she drank eight shots of liquor at home before she went to the park.
Testimony in the preliminary hearing will continue Tuesday in Stanislaus County Superior Court.
The defendants remain in custody. They face charges of first-degree murder, robbery, and two counts of attempted robbery, along with enhancements of committing the crimes for the benefit of the Norteño street gang. They have pleaded not guilty and denied the enhancements.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2394. Follow him on Twitter @ModBeeCourts.